“The Old Lady With The Facelift”

I was working in the back room of the Molly Mutt Thrift, sorting clothes, when my fellow volunteer and dear friend Pamela came rushing in, looking agitated. Apparently, a customer had gone up front to the register to buy a dress, and said to Pam, “That old lady in the back, the one with the facelift, told me this was $2.”

Well first of all, I told her the dress was $4, but that’s hardly the point, eh? Pamela told me she’d responded, “That’s my friend you’re talking about, you bitch!” And no dress changed hands after that. I love Pamela for sticking up for me, but the comment still hurt. Why? This was just a rude person with underdeveloped social skills, and perhaps an attention-seeker. And aren’t I proud to be an old lady who’s still got it going on?

old lady with facelift?

Women of a certain age are fabulous. Who’s had a facelift? Don’t know, don’t care.

I had to analyze: What was worse . . . being that “old woman” or looking like I’d had a facelift? Would it have been better or worse if she’d said, “that older lady”? And how much kinder it would have been to say, “that woman with the fuzzy hair” or “the nice woman in the back, wearing sneakers.” I don’t mind a truthful description, and maybe “old lady” is a truthful description, but a pointed and unkind one in our culture.

And as far as the facelift: would she have said, “the woman with the bald spot” or “the woman with the crossed eyes,” or any other physical descriptor that’s not socially suitable? I fumed and vented for a while, and found myself staring in the mirror, stretching my face to imitate an actual facelift. It seems I still need to work on my internal locus of control, and not let the slings and arrows hurt me.

A woman, any woman or man, is entitled to privacy about our medical conditions and cosmetic interventions, if any. Of course, if you want to share, please do, and come sit next to me. : >

If there are lessons to be learned from this unpleasant episode they would be: 1) there are some crass people in the world, and we mustn’t let them steal our joy; and 2) being an “old lady” is an accomplishment – but only my best friends are allowed to call me one. xo


Stay fabulous, and stay you,



Here’s some fab summer pieces that this “old lady” likes:

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Header art from this site.

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  1. I think she only said it because she was jealous that you looked better than she did.

  2. So pleased your friend gave her a mouthful. My current bugbear is “Ahh, bless” which seems to be used as a response by most of those under 25 I come across in shops, restaurants, hair salon etc. here in the UK. Recent example at hairdresser’s – Me – ” I got a free for 3hours parking space just round the corner”.
    Stylist age 23 – “Ahh, bless”.
    Recently at a customer service desk in Marks and Spencer a 17yr old greeted me “Hello Darlin’ what can I do for you?” Smiling I said that he’d made me feel ancient. He said he was just being friendly and asked what he should call me. I suggested ” Madam?”. Massive fail for staff training. It is so patronising and retailers must be aware that us baby boomers have more disposable income now than ever before. So stop patronising us. I know in the USA Sir and Ma’am are still in common use.

    I think we’d all be knocked sideways by that cheeky Madam’s remark but it says more about her than you. I’ve not looked at your site for a while and your profile pic, new to me, is fantastic. Have a good week.

    • I’ve lived in the deep South in the United States all of my fifty seven years. Ma’am and Sir are still very much in use in my region. But endearments such as Darlin’, Love, Honey, Sweetheart, Sugar, Baby, etc are quite commonly used irrespective of the age of either party. If, for instance, the 18 year old sales clerk asks me question then I will most likely reply with a “yes, ma’am” or a “no, ma’am”. But if I were asking him/her a question, then I’d likely call them “Honey” or “Darlin'”. And a younger person calling me “Love” or “Darlin'” doesn’t make me feel old but rather makes me feel special. Madam, on the other hand, would make me feel like a doddering ancient, lol! Guess it just depends upon the social more in your region.

  3. “A Work of art…” I like that one. Sometimes I realise that, at nearly 63, I probably am an old lady to some (to a ten year old, I’m from the age of dinosaurs – without much knowledge of that age; to a 30 year old I’m sure I’m an old lady, to a 90 year old, I’m a young woman… xx

  4. What concerns me is how easily (depending on the day or our emotional fortitude) we can be undone, hurt, thrown into a puddle of self-doubts etc by others/external messages whether it be the media or a passing unfiltered comment. My son-in-law who is a sunny and terrific person calls me ‘bubby nana’ when he wants to get in his grandmother aging jabs. My daughter, who has trouble I’m guessing, thinking of me (or perhaps herself) as ‘aging’ calls me GG instead. In their cases, a loving way to deal with the prospect of my mortality. I am still taken by surprise when I pass a mirror and my thirty year old inner self isn’t reflected there, or when I have a headache which is just a headache, but now I think some miserable disease is lurking about. It’s tough to age gracefully and go through all of the inner and outer changes with equanimity, but one of the most helpful things my mother said to me (when I was being critical/obnoxious no doubt) was “I’m doing the best I can”. We have to embrace who and what we are at all stages of life, reject negativity out of hand, and let ourselves off the hook more often. Your blog with its inclusiveness and loving spirit and feistiness and the creativity is one of those ‘best’ things.

    • Ha! The old lady in my bathroom mirror startles me every so often when I see her before the first cup of coffee in the morning! I’m still quite young on the inside and it’s always something of a shock to realize that my outside doesn’t match my inner reality.

  5. Auto correct…makes me nuts.
    In my 2nd paragraph the word CALLED should appear between being and an. Thus, “being CALLED an old lady…

  6. I wonder sometimes about our knee jerk reactions to the words “old lady”. Lately I’ve come to the realization that I am in fact,:-) an old lady. The reality is that being an old lady entails a lot!!! Much of it is actually very positive!!
    Being an old lady in combination with assumptions about having had a facelift is rude, and meant to be a put down because it assumes you’ve done something to avoid the reality of being an old lady.
    Perhaps we should embrace our old lady status for all it means about a long life, hard earned wisdom, perspective, and enough maturity to know that kindness is an admirable behavior regardless of age but requires at least a “grown up” sensibility.

  7. Wow, some people are just plain rude, mean, or completely insensitive to the feelings of others (or all three). You are most definitely NOT an old lady. I don’t know that I agree with Pamela for sharing the customer’s remark with you, but kudos to her for sticking up for you.

  8. Some people really have not filter, and don’t realize the consequences of their words. I have taught about abuse of the elderly in long term care settings and I remind staff that the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is far from accurate. Bone heal, but those words stick…often the rest of our lives, it would seem.

  9. Wait…she was talking about you??? I am at quite a bit older than you and consider you one of the young ones. Rude people are weird but remember you have all of us who consider you FABULOUS. Forget about the mean ones there isn’t time for that now. xoxoxo

  10. Since this customer is a proven liar, in which she was not truthful about a price at a charity store whose proceeds benefit animals, why accept anything she says about you as being either fair or accurate.

    You do not look like an old lady. I am sorry you had such an unpleasant experience as you volunteer to help our four-legged companions.

    Blessings and hugs,

    Anne who typically lurks instead of comments

  11. Wow, that was a terribly rude thing to say! I am not sure where people’s filters are sometimes! I think you look fabulous, truly.
    But funny, timing,, I am actually going in for a mini life or lunchtime lift. Most of my friends think I am a bit silly, my skin is excellent for my age, thank you genetics, but I would rather have one thing done, and then age gracefully, rather than being a slave to botox and facials, and all of the other things, that seem to be common maintenance.
    Nice to have friends like Pamela!
    Ignore, as best you can, people who say rude things, they are often bitter people and THEIR issues should not be allowed to taint your day!
    Love the shopping inspiration too!
    xx, Elle

  12. Aren’t people a hoot! Most of the time I simply smile or out and out laugh at them. A few days ago while wandering around a local grocery market, a lovely young woman walked up to me and smartly handed me her business card. I smiled and glanced at her card . It read “So and so Hair Stylist. Specializing in colorization.” With one quick step back she completed a visual analysis of my old gray head. With confidence and sincerity she made the following statement. “You really must allow me to Fix your grey hair issue.”…( I believe she was from the UK). “Give a call for an appointment. ” I’ll correct the color and get rid of that horrid yellowing that is developing.” I was a bit speechless, which is a rather rare experience for me. Apparently, she assumed my lack of comment was due to my preference to use another “color specialist”. Her parting comment was. ” Look dear, call me for help or call someone else, but you really need to address this.” Still a bit stunned I watched her walk away. She shot me one quick look of pity over her shoulder and was gone. After standing in place for another minute or two I found myself in search of a mirror. My fun, long, gray curls didn’t have unsightly yellowing…did they? AH HA. A MIRROR= Mission complete…nope, no unsightly yellowing…well not in this light. Wonder if my daughter is home. She’ll tell me truth. Daughter says, “Are you nuts Mom? Your hair is silver grey and beautiful!” Funny how others can find our insecurity buttons and just keep that finger glued on the flippin’ thing. Looking back…maybe I should have commented on how burnt her hair looked. Probably from practicing color techniques. Nah…wouldn’t have helped.

  13. My father used to get on to my little sister for calling people in his age group “little old man” or “little old woman.” She has occasion to roll out these phrases a lot because she works in a nursing home and almost all the residents are, in her mind, “little” and “old.” My father, who is feeling his age more each passing year, finds the phrase degrading and patronizing and, truth be told, so do I. I can barely handle it when someone calls me “ma’am” or “that middle aged woman.” I just don’t feel those descriptors fit me…and yet they do. Come to think of it, they fit my sister now too. I wonder how she feels when she is called “ma’am” and “middle aged.” I’ll have to ask her.

    This experience you had was most definitely unpleasant. I suspect the woman’s tone didn’t help soften her words. If I call myself “old lady,” I do it with the kind of power that Wonder Woman has when she clashes her wrist cuffs together. But if someone else says that about me in a nasty tone, it is just as powerful at sucking out my strength and confidence.

    And yet, thinking about you, knowing your sweet and gentle face, having heard your voice–I can’t imagine anyone ever calling you an “old lady” in a degrading tone of voice, much less suggested you had a face lift in a way that tells the listener she has a problem with people who get plastic surgery. Sounds to me like the woman doesn’t have her glasses on quite right. Maybe she needs to have them adjusted, along with her general attitude.

    I’m sorry you had such a nasty experience and I hope it helps at least a little to know how much I admire your spirit, your generosity, your power and strength — and how simply fabulous you look whatever age you are.


  14. Discourteous behavior and dishonesty (lying to cheat a thrift shop for $2? Really?) – makes me wonder what other sterling qualities this person has? Perhaps she will come to appreciate the lesson, but maybe that’s too much to hope for.


  15. It always shocks me to hear how rude people can be. I am glad she was told off by your friend and hopefully she does not come back.

  16. Oh my. Some people. Actually, I enjoy being older – I get treated so nicely in the grocery and drugstore! That silly person is going to be a pickle face – one’s face always reflects the soul in some way.

    You’re beautiful, brave, and totally cool πŸ™‚

  17. Pamela is the best! Sometimes, when in a work environment, there are those rules we feel we must follow…you know ‘The customer always comes first.’ etc…Not always so, sez me! It gives me a thrill knowing that your friend stood up for you, and rightly so!

    And about that rude and unkind behavior? Well…it seems that it’s not just ‘anonymous’ making all the snarky comments. Pamela met a real, live troll.

    YOU! You are fabulous!

  18. Oh my, just another rude woman putting someone down to feel better about herself. Her behavior was awful and I hope Pamela’s comment resonated with her and she reflected on it. One can only hope…..meanwhile keep on being awesome, age is a privilege and isn’t getting “old” the goal, don’t we all want a long, happy blessed life?
    Enjoy your day ahead. πŸ™‚

  19. Saying doesn’t make it so. Not only was she rude she was a liar, both about the price and about whomever she’d asked about the price.

    Sometimes it’s hard to communicate but one can always try to be diplomatic. Years ago, we were 3 on my shift, all small, all brown-eyed. One African American, 1 Caucasian, 1 Asian. A patient asked the desk clerk for ‘that little nurse.’ When asked for more description, she said, “The one with the dark eyes.”

    • Years ago, I was in the Peace Corps in Kenya, teaching high school. I needed to find a student, whom I didn’t yet know by name. I asked some other students. “Oh, he’s the black one,” one answered. ?!?!?! They were all Kenyan, and all black! But they saw shades of black and brown that I wasn’t yet attuned to. I learned to chill about it, and above all to learn everybody’s names and faces.
      As for the facelift snark, I agree with Jodie. The customer must have decided you looked too good for the age she had guessed for you. It’s mean, but keep in mind it says more about the person saying it than it does about you.
      And you look fabulous!!!

  20. Well that would have burned me as well.

    I was once called the “short fat one” and that was when I was 20! I still haven’t gotten over it. I was never tall but I’ve never been what I would consider truly fat either.

    People are unaware how damaging these types of comments are.

    On the other hand, that Retin A cream is doing better than any $20,000 face lift could. Gotta be happy about that at least.

    Keep rocking on and ignore the haters. Life is too short to be weighed down with negative energy.


  21. On the other hand… While I was working out at a gym, a young woman, a stranger to me, smiled at me and enthused, “Good for you!” I was baffled; wasn’t I just one of the people at the gym? Apparently not.

    • LOL – Not too long ago, a (younger) neighbor woman said that to me as I walked by on the sidewalk as I was walking around the block.

  22. First, I have to say to your friends response… RIGHT ON! Let me say that relatively recently I lost a significant amount of weight…before the loss, and even now, people have felt they had the “right” to comment on my body. They did not and do not! All of us – red, yellow, black, white, skinny, fat, young, old, short, tall – are beautifully, wonderfully, uniquely made by the hand of God! Each of us should be celebrated for who we are, not who someone else thinks we should be! Old?! Facelift?! PSH!? All I see is a beautiful, vibrant woman who brings color and style to her world, and that kinda rocks!

  23. Strangely enough I take great joy in referring to myself as ‘an old lady’ ( not accurate, never lady, woman) but I wouldn’t take kindly to a stranger doing it. I’m really not sure why? My ‘right on’ self says ‘ what’s wrong with being referred to as old, I’m 62 this year, I may not be old but I’m not young! I tease my friends that we are in the autumn of our lives. Still a lot of beauty but the leaves are dropping!
    I think maybe the nasty bit was the facelift comment, it feels unecessary?

  24. That’s a little crazy, Patti! But on the good side, it makes for a great story!
    I have to admit, that I’ve probably been called worse over the years—it just doesn’t always get back to me!
    At least you look fabulous, because otherwise she’d say the old lady with all of the wrinkles, right?
    And what a great friend in Pam!! XOXO

  25. Oh for heaven’s sake, how spectacularly rude. Kudos to Pamela for telling that excuse for humanity how it is. If nothing else rejoice in having a brilliant friend who puts integrity over making money.
    I’m outraged on your behalf because neither of those statements are true. You are a stunningly attractive woman with a wicked personality, a 1000 kilowatt smile and bucket loads of killer style.
    Don’t let one throwaway saying dent your confidence, read through the lovely comments your blog friends leave you on a weekly basis and rise above it. xxx

  26. Patti, I’m sorry that woman was so rude. Rudeness is hard to cure, and there’s a lot of it out there.
    I was applying for a job 13 years ago. I was 51 at the time. There were 2 of us applicants waiting in the reception office for our interviews. When the boss walked in and asked the receptionist about applicants, she said something complimentary about the young, attractive applicant and referred to me as “that other one”. I was well dressed and groomed; and not unattractive. But I guess the receptionist saw me as “that other one” due to my age and being 15 pounds overweight. Ageism and weightism? Probably. Rude? I think so.

  27. Oh, ouch, Patti! Some people are just rude, and that’s a far worse thing than being “old”! LOL But I know how you feel. Since I’ve lost weight, I’m often taken for a good bit older than I am (people think I’m in my late 60’s rather than my late 50’s). It’s hurtful and frustrating, but in the end, all that matters is that you are beautiful, especially to those of us who have never met you but whose lives have been so enriched by you!

  28. Oh my. I suppose some folks would praise that woman for “calling it like she sees it.” Or something. I remember being at a luncheon, sitting at a long table next to a friend of mine. Both of us had long hair. I overheard someone at the other end of the table identifying the person next to me (by name) as “the woman with the long hair,” then amending her description to “the woman with the pretty, long hair” or did she mean “pretty long hair” (as in my friend’s hair was “pretty long” but not as long as mine)? We will never know. But sometimes it still bothers me that she thought my friend’s hair was “pretty” and mine was not. Head up! Chin out! Carry on!

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